Once Launched, All U.S. States Will Have an Online Vaccination Database
In 2013, New Hampshire health officials were alarmed to learn about a whooping cough outbreak in neighboring Vermont. This highly contagious respiratory infection can make breathing difficult and, in rare cases, even cause death. Given the threat to public health, New Hampshire officials spent a week calling schools throughout the state to check that all children were vaccinated against the disease. Later this year, this information will be available with a few keystrokes.
Come summer, New Hampshire is expected to have its online repository of vaccination records up and running. It will be the last state in the country to adopt the Immunization Information System (IIS), an initiative The Task Force’s Public Health Informatics Institute has been involved with since 1992 when it first began work on creating immunization registries.
The electronic database is a consolidated and confidential listing of a population’s immunization records that is accessible to healthcare providers, schools, and local public health agencies.
PHII Informatics Analyst Natalie Viator, MPH, said launching an IIS is always a long and complex undertaking. For close to 18 months, PHII worked with the New Hampshire Immunization Program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the IIS rollout. Much of the support PHII provided focused on testing the system to ensure it met the needs of all end users from nurses in pediatrician’s offices to pharmacists. PHII also worked with local officials to verify that the IIS generated an accurate list of immunizations needed by an individual patient at a particular time.
To ensure New Hampshire’s IIS met stringent standards for security, confidentiality and privacy, PHII was tasked with helping develop procedures that would ensure the new system complied with legal requirements.
“Implementing an IIS is a new experience for our state,” said New Hampshire’s IIS Manager, Donna McKean. “PHII guided and mentored us, helping to convey the institutional knowledge to navigate all the moving parts. They also connected us to our peer IIS programs. These partnerships will ensure both the success of the IIS roll out and increase our independence long-term.”
Now that there is an IIS in all of the United States, PHII is looking ahead on ways to help states enhance their systems. It’s a key partner in a new collaborative that hopes to enable states to share electronic immunization data with each other. “The ability to easily exchange data across state lines will give healthcare providers real-time information to help them take appropriate clinical actions for their patients,” Viator said.